Google is working on wearable computer contact lenses and has already secured two patents for the device. The lenses will include biometric sensing capability. A target group appears to be diabetics who need to monitor blood sugar levels, as the lenses also include Ophthalmic Electrochemical Sensors that are able to detect chemicals in the wearer’s tear drops and issue alerts with an embedded Light Emitting Diode when the blood sugar falls to an unsafe level.
According to the patent, the lens will be powered by a pair of antennas, which may also be used for communication purposes. Google also states in the patent application that the two antennas may also be replaced by a single antenna that may handle dual functions.
Google’s Babak Parviz and Brian Otis say that the technology is still in the early stages and is set to detect once every second. A multiple number of clinical tests have also been conducted, and the prototype is being refined. They hope that it will lead to a new method for diabetics to manage the disease that now afflicts millions.
According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are almost 400 million people around the globe that suffer from some form of the disease, which is expected to be among the top ten causes of fatalities with the next decade. Google is currently in discussions with the Food and Drug Administration over the use of the Google contact lens, as approval must be granted before the product is introduced.
There has not yet been any indication of integrating the features included in the Google wearable product known as Google Glass, which is receiving a mixed reception from consumers after it was made widely available. The concerns surrounding the somewhat lackluster reception that Glass has received seem not to be from the product, but the manner in which it was launched, and continuing concerns about the use. Observers believe that at $1500 per pair, the price makes it exclusive, for a product that may be still in beta-test. The demand has been strong, but the product is not readily available, which contributes to the annoyance of those who are eager to buy. There are also some lingering concerns for privacy, and the effect that the use of Glass can have on social interactions.
Beyond the use of Google contact lens as a medical device, the company also notes in the patent filing, that the use of the lenses may be expanded to assist blind wearers of the occurrence of approaching vehicles, by transferring images into sounds. It is hoped that the general public will be much more appreciative of the technologies, when used in these circumstances as opposed to the recording and publishing of images without prior consent, as can be done with Google Glass.
The Google contact lenses appears to be not about connectivity, but appears to be aimed a group that will benefit from assistance rather than exclusivity. The company has not yet announced a date when the contact lenses may be available as development and testing continues.
By Dale Davidson